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Turn Your Netbook Into a Kindle

Before you drop $359 on a Kindle 2 or $489 on a Kindle DX, ask yourself this question: What does a Kindle have that your netbook doesn't?

Granted, a Kindle is thinner and lighter, and its battery lasts a lot longer on a charge. But netbooks have bigger, brighter, backlit screens (in color, no less), and they double as computers. (Last I checked, the Kindle couldn't run Word or load Web pages.)

So why not use the netbook you already own to read e-books, Kindle-style? Here's how.


One of the Kindle's big perks, of course, is Amazon's unsurpassed library of available e-books, which currently tops 275,000. But e-booksellers like eBooks.com, eReader, Fictionwise, and Mobipocket (which, interestingly, is owned by Amazon) offer plenty of mainstream, business, and academic titles. (eBooks.com alone boasts 168,000.)

You can also stock up on public-domain classics from Project Gutenberg, which catalogs tens of thousands of books, all free for the download. And speaking of free, if you have a live Internet connection, Google Book Search makes a whopping 1.5 million titles available.

Different e-booksellers require different software for viewing their books. Alas, not all the viewers let you rotate the screen for a more book-like reading experience. Fortunately, a free utility like EeeRotate does the job.

So, there you have it. A netbook may require a bit more hoop-jumping for reading on the run, but it's a lot more capable than a Kindle and, depending on which model you buy, less money. (For example: You can get the mega-popular Eee PC 1000HA for as little as $290 shipped.)

Me, I'm pretty happy reading e-books on my iPhone -- but I'd definitely opt for a netbook before spending money on a single-purpose device like the Kindle. What about you?

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